A huge thank you to my mum, Rachel Littlewood, for taking us to Le Manoir for an amazing lunch. First of all we had a walk round the most beautiful gardens, well my sisters walked and my mother and I stumbled as we are weak and weedy. The gardens are absolutely magnificent, kept by 8 gardeners in a pristine condition. What is also wonderful is that they are like fairy gardens, everywhere you look there are the most fantastic sculptures, lots of them hiding in the bushes or behind trees. When we arrived we were made very welcome, my mother was looked after really well and we went and sat in one of the sitting rooms while we looked at the menus. We were offered drinks, including tap water, which I thought was a particularly nice thing to do, again the staff seemed absolutely fine with that. I noticed an amazing sculpture made of sugar, it was a guitar and amp and I would have loved it for my sons who are keen players.
Then came one of my favourite food groups, canapes.Ã‚Â Just the right amount of crunch and chew with little surprises like the lime mayonnaise and the parmesan sable.
There was a miso and potato crisp with sesame see, raw tuna and wasabi cream
A curry ball with lime mayonaise
Parmesan sable with peston and parmesan cream and beef carpaccio
Finally an oat biscuit with goat curd, honey and kalamata olives
They were all divine
Having made our various choices from the Orient Express Menu, with a bit of switching and one of our party having the vegetarian choice (being a pescetarian and still a foodie) we were taken into the dining room.Ã‚Â The Manoir has more than one dining room so that you get an intimate feel to your dinner.Ã‚Â To our surprise we had all received a book, signed by Raymond Blanc, as a present.Ã‚Â I think this is because a) he is a bon oeuf and b) this was all about my lovely mum who is only a few years younger than his maman.Ã‚Â Thank you so much, that was a lovely treat.Ã‚Â I noticed my favourite recipe in there, chicken with morels, which I have made more than once now but had got the recipe from a magazine.
Our first course was one of my favourites, the veloute was creamy and moreish with little bits of crunch at the top, the langoustine was moist and plump and I could see at least one sister eyeing it up.Ã‚Â More crunch came with the strip of home made pappadom.
I loved this, there were little tasty cubes of chorizo adding to the dressing that was drizzled over the cod,Ã‚Â the red pepper was, I think, filled with cod brandade and there were cockles scattered over the plate which worked perfectly with the vinaigrette, I could have been at the seaside!Ã‚Â There was also a crispy piece of fish skin which I loved so much I ate all my sisters bits.
This was the favourite dish of at least one of my sisters.Ã‚Â The flavours were seasonally autumnal, the crispy sage leaf was a nice addition and it was a popular choice.
Absolutely perfect.Ã‚Â The quenelle of truffle cream went perfectly with the richness of the mushrooms, the quantity was perfect and I would come back for this alone.Ã‚Â (Actually that wouldnt be strictly true because if I came back, and I really want to, I would eat loads of everything to be honest).
My sisters asked for this more well done than I would have had it but it was still delicious, moist but with a texture almost like liver.Ã‚Â The sauce was amazing, it had huge depths of flavour with the yuzu cutting through the caramelised chicory perfectly.
The perfectly poached pear had a thin layer of crunchy caramel supporting an Italian meringue mixed with creme anglaise (creme chiboust?).Ã‚Â The pear had a little stick of liquorice which was the stalk and it came with pear sorbet on tiny cubes of pear on a caramel sauce.Ã‚Â I was actually full by now and still have the fork marks left by my sisters as they fought over my pickings.
The staff were delightful, the settings were glorious and I would be back like a shot.Ã‚Â If you ever get a chance please visit Le Manoir (and take me).